Nine Locks Brewing Co. began like many of today’s larger craft beer companies, with a small brewpub making great beer. Shaun O’Hearn, president and co-founder of Nine Locks Brewing Company, was a restaurateur for years before he discovered craft beer, but when he did he loved it so much he built a brewpub under his Halifax landmark pub and eatery, Your Father’s Moustache. Before long, the craft beers they were brewing were so popular, fans of his beer were telling him that he should package it to sell in local beer stores. Unfortunately, his liquor license only allowed him to sell his beer in the restaurant. After hearing this repeatedly, Shaun decided that it would be a good idea to take the beer to the next level.
One night in the summer of 2014, Shaun and Danny (O’Hearn), his cousin and next door neighbor, were having a few craft beers around the backyard fire talking about beer and how Nova Scotia needed more great micro breweries. Soon, they started talking about how great it would be to open a full-fledged microbrewery and use the proven recipes from the brewpub to produce the same great beer on a larger scale. Like many talks around a fire on a warm summer night, the more they drank, the more it sounded like a great idea! When they both woke up the next morning (late morning), the late night discussions came back to them and it really didn’t sound like crazy talk. Soon, discussions turned into planning, and then that turned into securing a location, and before they knew it, they were building a brewery.
The next step was to find a brewmaster who had the ability and the knowledge to be able to take the recipes from the pub, consistently reproduce them on a larger scale, and develop new recipes for seasonal brands and new offerings. An ad was placed, and after going through hundreds of replies and a trip to Montreal, they lucked out with Chris Downey, a brewmaster from England who had been working in Montreal for 20 years and was looking for a change. After uprooting his wife and two school-aged kids from their lives in Quebec, Chris settled in to the east coast lifestyle nicely and is now making some great craft beer for Nine Locks. Looking back on how everything came together, Shaun and Danny couldn’t be happier with the location they chose, the quality of the beer they produce, and the support from the community and the province.